How To: Find a Leak in a Pool
Have you been refilling your pool more often than usual lately? Pool water does evaporate, but excessive water loss typically indicates a pool leak. Here’s how to find a leak in a pool.
Whether your pool is brand new or several years old, the thought of having a leaky pool can fill almost any homeowner with dread. Fortunately, some water loss in a pool doesn’t automatically mean it leaks: evaporation and splashing are common culprits. If you can rule out those reasons, then it’s time to figure out where the leak is coming from. Pooling water in the yard, cracked tiles or concrete, and varying chemical levels are common signs that there’s a pool leak.
Pool leaks aren’t just annoying or inconvenient; if left ignored, a pool leak can lead to sinkholes, greater pool damage, and foundation shifts. Plus, you’ll be wasting money day by day as a pool leak persists. While you can attempt to find a pool leak yourself, a pool technician will definitely know how to find a leak in a pool so you can get that next pool party scheduled.
Time required: 1 to 3 days
Estimated cost: $10 to $20
Before You Begin…
Pool leak detection can be challenging and even dangerous if the leak is near any electrical wiring. While many homeowners can handle the more straightforward methods for detecting a pool leak, calling a pro may be the best option to avoid an accident. As always, safe water practices are the best course of action, so if you’re uncomfortable with any of these methods to find a pool leak, leave it to a pro.
Tips for How to Find a Leak in a Pool
- Inspect external pipes or plumbing for signs of water.
- Note where excess water appears to be pooling in the yard or on the concrete.
- Rule out normal evaporation first by using the bucket test method (see Step 3).
- Check for inconsistent chemical levels, as this may indicate a pool leak.
- Use food coloring to confirm a suspected leak.
- Avoid touching wet electrical wires to prevent shock.
- Work carefully around the edges of the pool to avoid accidentally falling in.
- Use swimming goggles to protect your eyes from the pool chemicals while doing the underwater dye test (see Step 4).
STEP 1: Look for evidence of a leak around the pool.
Water evaporation is normal for pools, but if it looks like more than a half inch of water is being lost each day, then it’s likely there is a leak somewhere. Other signs of a pool leak include swampy areas in the grass or on the pool deck and conspicuous cracked tiles or concrete. It may also be challenging to maintain appropriate chemical levels, as the chemical concentrations will change a lot when you’re regularly adding fresh water to the pool. You may have even noticed your water bill has gone up if you’ve been filling your pool more often.
STEP 2: Check for leaks at the equipment pad.
The equipment pad is another area to check for leaks. If a connection seal has broken or a part has failed, there could be water leaking into the equipment pad. Water may not be immediately visible, so you’ll need to consistently check the area for a few days. Valves, filters, pumps, or heaters can all be the culprits. Be extra cautious when checking this area to avoid accidentally getting shocked by an exposed electrical wire that may be wet.
STEP 3: Perform the bucket test to see if it’s a leak or just evaporation.
An effective way to see if the pool water is evaporating or the pool is leaking water is to do a bucket test. Fill a 5-gallon bucket with pool water and mark the top of the waterline with some painter’s tape or duct tape. With another strip of tape, mark the pool water at the top of the waterline. Leave the bucket next to your pool for a day or two, then measure the difference in the water levels between the two tape lines. If there’s a significant difference in water levels, then a pool leak is the most likely culprit, not evaporation.
STEP 4: Use a dye test to confirm a leak’s location.
Once you’ve ruled out evaporation and determined you have a leaky pool, you can use some food coloring or a special pool leak detection dye to locate the leak. Since you may need to swim to the bottom of your pool, wearing goggles will be helpful to see what’s happening. Around any integrated parts or plumbing fixtures, you can squirt a small amount of food coloring or dye in the water. If there is a leak around a skimmer, pump, or drain, the dye will naturally flow toward it and be sucked out. It’s easier to watch the dye get pulled toward a leak if the water isn’t churning, so using a snorkel to breathe while watching under the water is another helpful option.
STEP 5: Hire a skilled pool expert to repair the leak.
If you’re unable to determine where the leak in your pool is (or if you’ve found a leak but are unsure how to repair it), you’ll need to call a local pool service company. Searching for “pool leak detection near me” or “pool repair near me” should return some helpful results. Pool experts are also the best-equipped people to repair a leak in most pools.
If the issue is a leaky liner and your vinyl pool liner or Intex pool liner is older, pool liner repair might not be possible, and replacement might be the best option. Pool pros will also safely repair a leak in the equipment pad where electrical shocks could occur. If the pool is leaking in the underground piping, leave the hard work and expertise to a pro who knows just how to identify the problem pipe and repair it.
While most water loss in a pool happens because of evaporation or excessive splashing, the pool may have sprung a leak. Using the tried-and-true bucket method or a food coloring test will help identify a leak and where it might be. If you’re uncomfortable spending time underwater to find a leak or your attempts haven’t been successful, you can always hire a pro to help identify a leak inside the pool. Water safety is always important to practice around pools, and a pro can make sure that a leak is identified and repaired in the safest, most effective manner.